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Witnesses and leaders on terrorist attacks

(CNN) -- Although there are fears that thousands of people died in the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, some people survived to tell of the "holy hell" that erupted Tuesday morning when three jetliners slammed into the buildings. Eyewitnesses also talked of people fighting to survive. Here are their stories.

Pentagon attack

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"I mean it was like a cruise missile with wings, went right there and slammed into the Pentagon," eyewitness Mike Walter said of the plane that hit the military complex.

"Huge explosion, great ball of fire, smoke started billowing out, and then it was just chaos on the highway as people either tried to move around the traffic and go down either forward or backwards," he said.

World Trade Center attack

"It just went, 'Bam,' like a bomb went off. It was like holy hell," said a witness who was in one of the World Trade Center towers when it was hit by one of the planes.

"We heard a loud crash and the building started shaking, moving like a wave," said Matthew Cornelius, who had just arrived for work at the Port Authority offices when the first tower was hit.

"I saw people jumping off the building," said another witness. "Everyone was screaming, running ... people were stampeding, people started screaming that there was another plane coming and the second building just exploded."

"Horrendous number of lives were lost," said New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who was on the street outside the complex when the first plane crashed into the towers where 40,000 to 50,000 people may have been working.

"We do know that numbers of police and firemen are missing and pay tribute to their heroism," said New York Gov. George Pataki of the missing 78 officers and 200 firefighters who responded to the first attack.

"I can't imagine any American pilot crashing an airplane into one of these buildings even with a gun to the head. They wouldn't do that," said James Kallstrom, retired FBI agent who led the investigation into the 1996 crash of TWA 800.

Vows of revenge

"Thousands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror," said President Bush, promising to retaliate against the terrorists and any country that harbored them.

"The pictures of airplanes flying into buildings, fires burning, huge structures collapsing, have filled us with disbelief, terrible sadness and a quiet, unyielding anger," he said.

"As the representatives of the people we are here to declare that our resolve has not been weakened by these horrific and cowardly acts," said Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-South Dakota.

"This is obviously an act of war that has been committed on the United States," said Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

"We're going to find out who did this and we're going after the bastards," said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

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